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Embodied cognition and social consumption: Self-regulating temperature through social products and behaviors



Extant embodied cognition research suggests that individuals can reduce a perceived lack of interpersonal warmth by substituting physical warmth, and vice versa. We suggest that this behavior is self-regulatory in nature and that this self-regulation can be accomplished via consumptive behavior. Experiment 1 found that consumers perceived ambient temperature to be significantly lower when eating alone compared to eating with a partner. Experiment 2 found that consuming a cool (vs. warm) drink led individuals to generate more socially-oriented attributes for a hypothetical product. Experiment 3 found that physically cooler individuals desired a social consumption setting, whereas physically warmer individuals desired a lone consumption setting. We interpret these results within the context of self-regulation, such that perceived physical temperature deviations from a steady state unconsciously motivate the individual to find bodily balance in order to alleviate that deviation.
Embodied Cognition and Social Consumption:
Self-Regulating Temperature through Social Products and Behaviors
Extant embodied cognition research suggests that individuals can reduce a perceived lack
of interpersonal warmth by substituting physical warmth, and vice versa. We suggest that this
behavior is self-regulatory in nature and that this self-regulation can be accomplished via
consumptive behavior. Experiment 1 found that consumers perceived ambient temperature to be
significantly lower when eating alone compared to eating with a partner. Experiment 2 found
that consuming a cool (vs. warm) drink led individuals to generate more socially-oriented
attributes for a hypothetical product. Experiment 3 found that physically cooler individuals
desired a social consumption setting, whereas physically warmer individuals desired a lone
consumption setting. We interpret these results within the context of self-regulation, such that
perceived physical temperature deviations from a steady state unconsciously motivate the
individual to find bodily balance in order to alleviate that deviation.
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 1
Embodied Cognition and Social Consumption:
Self-Regulating Temperature through Social Products and Behaviors
A recent surge of psychology research examines an essential link between physiological
experiences and social perceptions, behavior, and judgments (Williams & Bargh, 2008; Bargh &
Shalev, 2012; Fay & Maner, 2012; Steinmetz & Mussweiler, 2011; Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008;
Hong & Sun, 2012). These results are consistent with the emerging field of embodied cognition,
which argues that our metaphorical understanding of concepts are grounded in, and can be
influenced by, the physical experiences of our environment (Wilson, 2002; Barsalou, 1999;
Niedenthal et al., 2005; Williams, Huang, & Bargh, 2009). Much of the extant embodied
cognition literature in this domain focuses on the link between physical warmth or coldness and
its relation to social relationships. For instance, physical warmth positively influences social
perceptions, social trust, and social proximity (Ijzerman & Semin, 2009; Williams & Bargh,
2008), while feeling lonely (i.e., social exclusion) relates to perceptions of physical coldness or
desire for warm remedies (Ijzerman & Semin, 2010; Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008). That is,
experiencing physical warmth relates to interpersonal affection whereas experiencing physical
coldness relates to exclusion and self-centeredness (Williams & Bargh, 2008). In addition, this
link is bidirectional in nature (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008), in that physiological experiences
affect social affiliation as much as social experiences affect physiological reactions.
This bidirectional link between social affiliation and physiological warmth has been
argued from a variety of perspectives. One of the prevailing views is the conceptual metaphorical
perspective (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, 1999; Gibbs, 1994; Barsalou, 2008), which argues that
individuals jointly experience both abstract and physical concepts and subsequently conflate the
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 2
two. Coupled with findings from embodied cognition, when individuals experience physical
warmth, they feel closer to others, whereas when individuals feel cold, they feel psychologically
more distant. Indeed, we often refer to “warm” individuals as trusting and generous, whereas
“coldindividuals are competitive and untrustworthy (Fiske, Cuddy, & Glick, 2007; Williams &
Bargh, 2008). Statements such as “I’m giving you the icy stare” or “we are on thin ice” carry a
negative omen of hatred or breakage of friendship in an interpersonal context while “she is warm
and friendlyor “our relationship is heating uprepresents a positive tone of attractiveness and
affection in the same context. Further, studies show differences in bodily temperature based on
people’s personalities and their social environment. When participants are with similar others,
they experience the ambient temperature to be higher (Ijzerman & Semin, 2010), while social
exclusion leads individuals to feel colder (Ijzerman et al. 2012; Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008).
This explains why people may feel greater “warmth” around their loved ones (e.g., families and
friends) and “coldness” around those they dislike.
Moreover, the link between physical and social warmth is supported by research in
biology and neuroscience. Social neuroscience research shows greater activation within the
participants’ left anterior insula during a social trust exercise after touching a cold pack,
identifying the insula as a neural substrate that mediates the link between temperature and social
trust (Kang et al., 2011). In another study, hand skin temperature decreased after participants
were confronted with personally threatening questions (Rimm-Kaufman & Kagan, 1996). That is,
when potential for interpersonal relations are compromised, people experience a drop in body
temperature. Taken together, the linguistic coupling of metaphors reflect people’s predisposition
to experience a physiological change in social situations (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008). This view
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 3
ultimately suggests that language and our higher order cognitions are grounded in human
behavior and physical contexts (Glenberg, 1997; Glenberg & Kaschak, 2002).
Embodied Cognition and Self-Regulation
Work exploring embodiment and conceptual metaphor theory within social psychology
and marketing has typically been descriptive, rather than explanatory (Meier et al., 2012).
Certainly, literature has focused on exploring the interesting effects related to embodied
psychology, but has yet to truly understand the mechanisms, boundary conditions, or mediators
underlying them. Despite all the evidence exploring embodied cognition, no major theory has yet
emerged to explain it (Smith & Semin, 2004; Neidenthal et al., 2005).
Some views in embodied psychology have argued that embodied manipulations activate
concepts and increase the accessibility of related ideas. For instance, holding a warm cup of
coffee influences individuals to rate others as having a ‘warmer’ personality (Williams & Bargh,
2008). Furthermore, inducing suspicion results in greater accessibility of fish-related words and
detection of fishy smells (Lee & Schwarz, 2012). However, other research is not easily
understood with such an explanation. Indeed, Lee and Schwarz (2012) have noted that physically
cleansing oneself (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006; Lee & Schwarz, 2010a) decreases one’s guilt but
being primed has no effect. Rather, that research appears to be better understood through a self-
regulatory explanation.
Although the term self-regulation has come to refer to self-control for many social
psychology and marketing researchers (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994), we use self-
regulation to refer to corrective behavior that achieves physical or psychological balance. One
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 4
example of a self-regulatory embodied process comes from Kouchaki and colleagues (2013) who
showed that not only did wearing a heavy backpack intensify feelings of guilt (e.g., heavy burden
to bear), but individuals were more likely to choose a healthy snack and less likely to cheat,
ostensibly to self-regulate those feelings of guilt. Demonstrating the bi-directionality of this
effect, individuals can regulate emotions such as guilt or dissonance through embodied
metaphorical actions such as washing one’s hands (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006; Schnall, Benton,
& Harvey, 2008; Lee & Schwarz, 2010b) and show a greater desire for products that allow them
to do so (Lee & Schwarz, 2010a).
Other researchers argue that physical states can affect psychological processes such as
perception, in order to regulate one’s behavior towards optimal outcomes (Balcetis & Dunning,
2009; Bhalla & Proffitt, 1999). For example, Proffitt and colleagues (Bhalla & Proffitt, 1999;
Proffitt et al., 2003) demonstrate that when individuals are fatigued they will see hills as steeper
and distances as farther, whereas Balcetis and Dunning (2009) showed that objects such as a
water bottle are perceived as closer when they are more desirable (e.g., when people are thirstier).
More related to the current research, work with temperature demonstrates that individuals who
are induced to feel lonely seek to regulate these feelings of exclusion with a greater desire for
warm drinks and food (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008) or through behavior such as warm showers
and baths (Bargh & Shalev, 2012).
Furthermore, research has demonstrated that psychological embodied manipulations can
affect physiological experiences and vice versa. For example, being socially excluded results in
lower skin temperatures but holding a warm cup can alleviate this effect (Ijzerman et al., 2012).
Thus, if we have an innate tendency to maintain balance with respect to physiological changes
such as temperature, then metaphorical embodied manipulation of temperatures should result in
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 5
the same processes. Specifically, individuals can use physical objects to self-regulate
psychological deviations from a state of balance. Conversely, an individual might respond to a
physical imbalance by unconsciously behaving in ways that result in a psychological response
consistent with alleviating that imbalance. Physical objects used to self-regulate a psychological
imbalance should be related to some attribute of the source of the deviation. In many instances,
this manifests itself as desire for that physical object (Aarts, Custer, & Holland, 2007; Forster,
Liberman, & Friedman, 2007; Higgins, 1987). Hence, as psychological discrepancy increases, so
does the desire for a related object.
While some of these results are interpretable within a consumption context (e.g.,
mouthwash, water bottle), no research in this domain specifically investigates consumption
behaviors (context or product attributes) as a solution for this self-regulatory imbalance. Thus,
the current research expands our understanding of the self-regulatory power of consumer goods
(i.e., social products). Within the consumer domain, we argue that interpersonal warmth can be
represented by type of consumption experiences or product attributes. Specifically, consumption
experiences or product attributes that are social in nature might serve as a tool to substitute for
interpersonal warmth. Previous research (e.g., Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton, 1981; Belk,
1988; Rucker & Galinksy, 2008; Fournier, 1998; Solomon, 1983) suggests consumer products
attain social and interpersonal attributes. Recent research argues people use social products (i.e.,
interactive products) to fulfill their need for affiliation and belonging (Ridings & Gefen, 2004).
Thus, we extend these findings by examining the relationship between metaphorical and physical
warmth and social belonging in a variety of consumption contexts.
Three experiments examine the relationship between physical temperature, social
interaction, and consumption experiences. Specifically, we demonstrate that certain consumptive
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 6
behaviors (consumptive experiences and products whose attributes are interpersonal in nature)
serve as a self-regulatory mechanism. In experiment 1, we observe a social consumption setting
and link these to perceptions of ambient temperature. In experiment 2, we manipulate the
temperature of a consumed drink prior to assessing the desirability of interpersonal (i.e.,
facilitative of social interaction) product attributes. Experiment 3 manipulates ambient
temperature and measures the desirability for a two-person versus a single-person consumption
experience. Taken together, these results suggest that the relationship between metaphorical and
physical temperature manifests itself within the context of consumptive behaviors and product
attributes, and that, more importantly, both physical and metaphorical warmth act as a self-
regulatory mechanism via those consumptive behaviors and product attributes.
Experiment 1
Experiment 1 (field study) observes whether a relationship exists between social
consumption setting and perception of atmospheric temperature. Specifically, we believe
individuals in a low social consumption setting (e.g., eating a meal alone) should perceive the
surrounding temperature as lower than the actual ambient temperature. On the other hand,
individuals in a high social consumption setting (e.g., eating a meal with another person) should
perceive the surrounding temperature as higher than the actual ambient temperature.
Experiment 1 was conducted at a food court during lunch time (12-3pm) in a large public
shopping mall (over 190 stores). 56 restaurant customers participated voluntarily in this field
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 7
study. The experimenters approached 28 individuals dining by themselves (low social
consumption condition) and 28 individuals dining with one other person (high social
consumption condition) and asked whether they would be willing to participate in a short study.
After receiving their consent, the experimenter asked the subjects to estimate the current building
temperature (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008). To give them a baseline, we informed participants that
the normal room temperature is 22°C. The actual room temperature was not given to the
participants but it was measured to be 21.5°C. To prevent hypothesis guessing, the participants
were informed that this information was requested by the mall maintenance staff. After providing
their answers, the individual was thanked for their time.
Participants in Experiment 1 estimated a range of atmospheric temperatures from 11°C to
27°C (M = 21.39°C, SD=2.92°C). The participant group as a whole was very accurate in their
assessment of the ambient temperature: there was no difference between the group estimate of
the ambient temperature and the actual (21.5°C: t(55) = -.28, p = .78) or the informed
temperature (22.0°C: t(55) = -1.56, p = .13). However, participants sitting alone (low social
consumption condition) gave lower estimates of room temperature than those who were eating
with another person (high social consumption condition) (M low = 20.21°C (SD=3.25) vs. M high=
22.57°C (SD=1.97); t(54) = 3.28, p < .01). Further, participants dining alone (low social
consumption setting) provided estimates lower than the actual room temperature (at 21.5°C)
(t(27)low= -2.10, p < .05), while people dining with another person gave higher estimates than the
actual room temperature (t(27)high = 2.87, p < .01). Thus, the results suggest a relationship
between social consumption setting and perceived atmospheric temperature.
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 8
Experiment 1 converges with previous research that demonstrates social interactions are
related with feelings of warmth. The results suggest that the social characteristics of a
consumption setting affect perceptions of ambient temperature. Specifically, eating a meal alone
(a low social consumption setting) led individuals to underestimate the actual ambient
temperature of the room, while eating a meal with another individual (a high social consumption
setting) led individuals to overestimate the actual ambient temperature in the room. Since pairs
of individuals eating together in the food court are most likely know each other, the current
research findings are analogous to Ijzerman and Semin (2010) who reported that those
surrounded by familiar others perceive ambient temperature to be warmer or that feeling socially
excluded leads to lower estimates of temperature (Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008). Taken together,
the results of this field study establish a link between social situation (or proximity) and
perception of ambient temperature.
In experiment 2, we test whether manipulating temperature alters people’s desire for
social products. Drawing from our discussion of self-regulation, we predict that individuals who
are warm are less interested in social products, whereas those who are cool are more likely to
seek such interactions through their products. Physiological research has long known the threats
of overheating and the importance of cooling (Sutton, 1909; Caruso et al., 1992) and there is
reason to believe that individuals feel the need to find balance from feeling warm or cold. Here,
we extend this notion to show that people seek to self-regulate their physical temperature through
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 9
desire for social products. Hence, we predict people consuming a warm (cool) drink will
experience less (more) desire for social products.
Experiment 2
A total of 54 undergraduate students (54% females) participated in exchange for course
credit. Upon arriving to the lab, we told them that they would be completing two mini-studies. In
part one, we asked students to evaluate a new type of tea. Students were randomly given a warm
or cool tea. To give individuals the time to drink the tea, we asked the participants to write their
thoughts and comments about the product (while drinking). This was also done to prevent any
hypotheses guessing. In part two, we provided individuals with a description of a new robot-
maid prototype that is being developed in Japan for the future. We showed them a picture of the
product and told them that the inventor is seeking to add more functions to increase the
capabilities of the robot prototype. We asked the participants to suggest as many ideas as they
could for new functionalities and features that would be suitable and desired by the participant
(should they purchase it). Participant responses were coded by two judges unaware of the
research hypotheses. The judges were instructed to rate thoughts/ideas that relate to interactive
functions as social (e.g., talking/interacting, walking buddy, sexual acts) and rate thoughts/ideas
that relate to non-interactive functions as non-social (e.g., vacuuming, cooking, alarm clock).
Overall, the two coders’ results were very consistent (r = .98) and any outstanding disagreements
were resolved through a discussion with the authors. As our dependent measure, a social thought
index was constructed by taking the difference between the number of non-social thoughts and
social thoughts, divided by the total number of thoughts. Zero indicates an equal number of two
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 10
types of thoughts, a positive number indicates more social thoughts, and a negative number
indicates more non-social thoughts.
Participants, on average, came up with a total of 5.54 (SD=2.17) ideas. In general,
participants came up with more non-social functions than social functions (M social = 2.50
(SD=1.21) vs. M non-social= 3.07 (SD=1.47); t(52) =2.64, p < .05). This was expected as it is easier
for participants to come up with non-social uses for a robot maid compared to interactive uses.
Consistent with our predictions, the participants consuming a cool beverage scored higher on the
social thought index than the participants consuming a warm beverage (M cool = .05 (SD=0.34)
vs. M warm= -.21 (SD=0.37); t(52) = 2.71, p < .01). That is, people consuming a cool beverage (vs.
warm) reported a higher ratio of social functions to non-social functions, ostensibly because they
longed for more social yearning through their robot-maid.
The results of experiment 2 provide evidence that social products serve as a proxy for
social interactions to regulate temperature. Furthermore, the results of experiment 2 support the
idea that those individuals who are warm become less interested in social interactions, whereas
those who are cool are more likely to seek such interactions.
In the case of experiment 2, individuals were manipulated to feel warm/cool and then
their desire for a social product was examined using a thought-listing task. Experiment 3 builds
on this by observing whether ambient temperature affects the actual desirability of different
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 11
types of consumption settings. Specifically, we manipulate two independent variables of interest:
the ambient temperature of the experimental room (cool versus warm), and whether the social
consumption setting (a movie theater package) was to be consumed alone (low social
consumption setting) or was to be consumed with another individual (high social consumption
setting). The dependent variable was the overall desirability of the social consumption setting. If
temperature and the social consumption are inherently linked, we suspect that the environment
(warm or cool room) moderates consumers’ level of desire for social consumption activities. We
predict people in a warm (cool) room will experience less (more) desire for social consumption.
Experiment 3
Ninety-four undergraduate students (50% females) participated in this experiment as part
of a larger study. The study was a 2 (room temperature: warm / cool) x 2 (social consumption:
low / high) between-subjects design. To manipulate room temperature, we modified the room
temperature prior to students coming into the lab. We also asked the students to take off their
jackets, thereby ensuring that temperature perceptions would not be attenuated by participants’
attire (Steinmetz & Mussweiler, 2011). Similar to the temperature ranges used in previous
research (Ijzerman & Semin, 2009), the cool condition retained a room temperature of
approximately 17-18 °C and the warm condition retained a room temperature of 26-27°C. To
manipulate social consumption, we asked to them evaluate the attractiveness of a new Groupon
movie-package deal. In the low social consumption condition, the participants saw a deal that
included the price of admission, small popcorn and small drink, and reserved seating priced at
$15 (limit of 1 purchase per person). In the high social consumption condition, the participants
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 12
saw a deal that included two admission tickets, two small popcorn and drinks, and reserved
seating priced at $30 (limit of 1 purchase per person). We then asked the participants to evaluate
the desirability of the deal (1- not desirable; 7 – very desirable).
ANOVA analysis revealed an interaction effect of temperature and social consumption
F(1,93) = 12.33, p < .01, ω2= .10). Simple main effects revealed that people in the cool room
evaluated the coupon-for-two deal (high social consumption) higher than the coupon-for-one
deal (low social consumption) (M high = 6.09 (SD=0.95) vs. M low= 5.29 (SD=1.16); F(1,93)=
6.24, p < .05, ω2= .04). In addition, simple main effects also revealed that people in the warm
room evaluated the coupon-for-one deal higher than the coupon-for-two deal (M high = 5.08
(SD=1.38) vs. M low= 5.87 (SD=0.78); F(1,93)= 6.09, p < .05, ω2= .04). See figure 2 for a
graphical representation of the results.
Insert Figure 1 Here
Overall, the results of experiment 3 provide additional evidence that consumptive
behaviors can be used by individuals to self-regulate temperature in both warm and cool
situations. Specifically, we found that individuals who felt cool desired a consumption
experience that included others, whereas those who were warm desired a lone consumption
General Discussion
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 13
Past marketing studies related to temperature primarily focus on retailers’ “servicescape”,
specifically on how temperature affects ambient experiences (Booms & Bitner, 1992; Hoffman
& Turley, 2002). For example, retailers avoid setting very high or very low temperature to
discourage avoidance behavior (Baker, 1987) and consumers perceive temperature in “on-the-
ground” department stores as more stable than underground department stores (Chun & Tamura,
1998). While these studies reveal the important role of temperature in consumption experiences,
researchers lack the understanding of how temperature relates to social consumption contexts
(i.e., consuming alone vs. consuming with others) or with social products (e.g., interactive
features such as Siri in iPhones).
In three experiments, we provide support for the self-regulatory power of social
consumption and products. In experiment 1, we first established the link between social
consumption and temperature such that individuals sitting alone perceived the ambient
temperature to be significantly lowered (cooler) than individuals who were sitting with another
individual. This supports and confirms extant literature in the field of embodied cognition.
Experiment 2 revealed that being cool (vs. warm) increased an individual’s desire for social
features in a hypothetical product. These findings parallel the notion that physical experiences
such as temperature influence social information processing (Steinmetz & Mussweiler, 2011).
However, it counters recent beliefs that warmth activates social affiliative motivations (Fay &
Maner, 2012). Instead, people given a cool (vs. warm) drink prefer social affiliation to achieve
bodily balance, potentially explaining why explains why people given a cool (vs. warm) drink
generated more social-related thoughts for their robot-maid in experiment 2. While it is possible
that people in cool (warm) states may feel isolated (connected) from others and make judgments
that are socially cool (warm) (Delgado, Frank, & Phelps, 2005; Ijzerman & Semin, 2009), it
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 14
doesn’t preclude them seeking or desiring warmth (coolness). Hence, it is still possible that
individuals still feel closer to others when experiencing warmth, but develop a preference and
desire for remedies that balance their physiological system.
Experiment 3 suggests individuals attempt to self-regulate when they are exposed to
either a warm or cool physical setting. When placed in a cool room, participants desired an
entertainment package that was socially inclusive, while those placed in a warm room desired the
entertainment package that was socially exclusive. While previous studies suggest that physical
warmth may act as a substitute for people’s desire for affiliation or promote pro-social behavior
(Bargh & Shalev, 2012; Ijzerman et al., 2012), our findings are more aligned with the notion that
people desire remedies to counterbalance their current state (i.e., self-regulation). For example,
physical coldness can cause a feeling of loneliness (Bargh & Shalev, 2012), which in turn creates
desire for social remedies (i.e., coupon-for-two). Together, our findings confirm and are
consistent with theories that social experiences are not independent of physiological experiences,
and that they are very much relevant to consumption contexts. More importantly, we show
temperature influences consumers’ desire for social consumption (E3) and social products (E2).
It should be noted that the effects outlined here are opposite to what one would expect
given a more straightforward, less motivational conceptual priming account. A key feature of
semantic priming is that it increases the accessibility of related constructs (Neely, 1977; Förster
& Liberman, 2007; for a meta-analysis, see DeCoster & Claypool, 2004). For example, if an
individual has to form a possible sentence from items such as “leg break arm his” they will be
more likely to view ambiguous targets as more hostile whereas priming "the hug boy kiss” will
encourage more kind ratings (Srull & Wyer, 1979). Indeed, previous research demonstrates that
the direction flows towards the prime with only unambiguous and extreme exemplars resulting in
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 15
a contrast effect (Herr, Sherman & Fazio, 1983). Subsequently, if the manipulations presented
here were merely activating a semantic prime, one would expect that ‘warm’ manipulations
would activate ‘warm’ associations. However, the results here were the exact opposite.
Individuals induced to feel either physically or socially warm preferred and activated
physically/socially cool desires, while those that felt physically or socially cool preferred warmth.
In addition, these results differ from what would expect from a goal-related prime.
Indeed, research has demonstrated that goal primes activate desired end-states (Sela & Shiv,
2009; Forster, Liberman & Friedman, 2007). For example, work disentangling the often
confounded question of when a prime activates a goal and when it activates a trait showed that
goal directed primes are a function of discrepancies between the prime and the self (Sela & Shiv,
2009). For instance, past research has shown priming achievement made individuals more
competitive (Bargh et al., 2001), priming helpfulness increased participants helpful behavior
(Macrae & Johnston, 1998), and priming conformity increased group consensus (Epley &
Gilovich, 1999). Once again, if our manipulations had activated a traditional goal prime, we
would have expected that those who felt physically/socially warm (cool) to have a greater desire
for warm (cool) products or environments. However, we found the opposite.
Finally, one may wonder whether these results are simply explained with an
intraconceptual embodied simulation explanation as opposed to with a conceptual metaphor
framework (Landau, Meier & Keefer, 2010). As Landau and colleagues (2010) state, temperature
related sensations, such as hugs, are typically related to friendliness. As such, the effects of
temperature at the food court could be understood from an embodied context. However, drink
temperature or social products are unlikely to be regularly associated with friendliness or
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 16
temperature. Hence, our results suggest a metaphoric overlap between social/physical warmth
(concrete concept) and the abstract concept of social/physical warmth.
Overall, we contribute to the literature by demonstrating the link between physiological
experiences and people’s desire for social interaction through self-regulation. Instead of warmth
promoting interpersonal affection and coolness promoting isolation, we find that people seek to
achieve balance (e.g., desiring interactive products when cool and isolation when warm). This
suggests that when one feels cool, people develop increased social affiliative motives; when one
feels warm, people seek relatively more social isolation. More importantly, we extend this
framework into consumption scenarios and development of social products, providing
managerial implications for marketers.
The current findings may benefit marketers in multiple ways. First, it is important for
marketers to control environmental settings (e.g., room temperature) to initiate relational
behavior. For example, it is often considered that live speed dating sites should operate in a
“warm and cozy environment” to increase interpersonal affection for potential candidates. In
contrast, we suggest that cooler rooms may encourage individuals to desire social remedies, such
as developing interpersonal relations, in order to self-regulate from being cool. This research is
also relevant to marketers seeking to develop social products. For instance, retail stores trying to
sell social products (i.e., interactive toys) may encourage individuals to seek out social products
by keeping their stores cooler.
Previous research (e.g., Spangenberg, Crowley, & Henderson, 1996) suggests strongly
that cues in the shopping environment can positively (or potentially detrimentally) affect product
perceptions. Given that ambient temperature may have an effect on perceptions of social
consumption (Ijzerman & Semin, 2010) and signals for social proximity (Fay & Maner, 2012),
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 17
future research should delve into understanding more about how temperature (such as store
temperature) affect one’s desire to socially interact with products and with others For example,
while our research focused more on products, perhaps these results can be extended to service
environments where interaction between the customer and the company representatives (i.e.,
salespeople) is highly encouraged. For example, would hair salons that encourage interactions
with their customers be better off by keeping their ambient temperature cooler? Future research
should extend our findings into service environments where company-customer interactions are
paramount. Moreover, being warm vs. boiling (cool vs. freezing) could be psychologically
different for consumers. For instance, while warmth elicits feelings of comfort, hot may elicit
feelings of anger or passion. Therefore, future research should also consider how different
degrees of temperature may replicate or yield separate results from the ones we have shown in
this research.
Embodied Cognition, Self Regulation 18
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... In its broadest sense, haptic relates to the study of touch (Prytherch & McLundie, 2002). In recent years, research concerning the impact of bodily feedback on judgement and behaviour has emerged (Wyer, 2008), indicating that the body is capable of influencing consumer behaviour (Lee, Rotman & Perkins, 2014;Ostinelli, Luna & Torsten, 2014;Van den Bergh et al., 2011). Indeed, several studies have demonstrated that the body critically modulates decision-making (Ackerman et al., 2010;Carney, Cuddy & Yap, 2010;Huang, Zhang, Hui & Wyer, 2014;Hung & Labroo, 2011;Niedenthal, 2007). ...
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Embodied cognition provides the epistemological means from which new insights into hapticsensations can be explored within the field of consumer psychology. Extant research has shownthat incidental haptic sensations can, nonconsciously, influence the judgement of objects that arenon-diagnostic (unrelated) for the actual qualities of the item being judged; this would includethe perception customers have of products. The application of this conception to the use of selfreportquestionnaires in consumer research lead to the hypothesis that the haptic experienceof a self-report questionnaire (weight and firmness of the paper) could, nonconsciously, triggerphysically grounded mental frameworks. In turn, this could lead consumers to form strongerproduct judgments when encountering an incidental, tactile experience of strength (firmness)in a self-report questionnaire. In two experiments (N = 178 and N = 128) evidence was found tosupport this hypothesis. Implications of the findings and future research directions are discussed.
... Previous research has shown that people rely more on affect when feeling uncomfortably cold, which impacts consequential consumer choices and judgment, such as willingness to pay and preferences for metaphorically warm products. For example, it has been shown that physical coldness leads to greater preference and willingness to pay for romantic movies (Hong & Sun, 2012) and stronger consumers' desire for interpersonal products and activities (Lee et al., 2014). In addition, the research by Hadi and Block (2019) demonstrated that after exposure to uncomfortably cold temperatures, people are willing to spend more money on purchasing insurance for an antique clock. ...
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Recent research views nostalgia as a valuable resource that can be accessed in times of distress and discomfort. The present work complements this literature by examining novel and previously uncovered triggers and downstream consequences of nostalgia in the consumer domain: disease‐threat and protective behavior. The current paper argues that nostalgia functions as such a psychological resource with buffering qualities and is used as a coping mechanism to maintain comfort when experiencing disease threat—the perception of a potential threat posed by an infectious disease. Using an archival data set and five experiments, the authors demonstrate that when facing a disease threat, but not an actual occurrence of disease, consumers experience a higher need for nostalgia and show an increased preference for nostalgic products. That is, internet searches for nostalgic products rise during flu season as well as COVID‐19 pandemic (Study 1), disease threat induces increased levels of experienced nostalgia (Study 2), which translate into increased preferences for nostalgic products (Study 3 and Study 5), mediated by disgust (Study 4). Finally, the authors show the resource value of product‐induced nostalgia, demonstrating the ironic effect that it can compensate for disease‐protective behavior (Study 6). The results provide important practical implications for marketers and policy‐makers who could focus on promoting nostalgic products or incorporating nostalgic cues in product design and communication that would generate positive consumer evaluations when the threat of illness or disease is salient.
Purpose Drawing on embodied cognition and construal level theory perspectives in marketing literature, the purpose of this study is to propose that closed eyes make events appear distant and increase high-level construal and abstract processing, whereas opened eyes make events appear near and increase low-level construal and concrete processing. The authors further argue that high (low) construal level induced by closed (open) eyes increases favoritism toward utilitarian (hedonic) appeals. Design/methodology/approach Drawing on embodied cognition and construal level theory, the authors conduct three studies to investigate how consumers form varying distance perceptions and attitudes toward advertising appeals depending on whether they open or close their eyes while contemplating the messages. In Study 1, the authors tested the effects of an advertisement featuring utilitarian versus hedonic appeals in a food waste reduction campaign. In Study 2, the authors tested the effects of an advertisement stressing utilitarian versus hedonic aspects of a brand of travel products. In Study 3, the authors tested the effects of an advertisement for hotel reward products depending on consumption motivations. Findings The studies support the hypothesis by showing that when individuals close their eyes, they form abstract processing styles (high-level construal), perceive events as more distant and increase preferences for utilitarian advertising appeals; when they open their eyes, they form concrete processing styles (low-level construal), perceive events as nearer and indicate preferences for hedonic advertising appeals. Originality/value The novel insight of this study shows how bodily sensations may affect various types of hedonic and utilitarian advertising appeals. This study contributes to the embodied cognition and construal level literature, but the contribution of this study is particularly important for marketers and advertisers in that the authors show interactions between open or closed eyes, hedonic or utilitarian product aspects and processing styles.
In the last two years, consumers have experienced massive changes in consumption – whether due to shifts in habits; the changing information landscape; challenges to their identity, or new economic experiences of scarcity or abundance. What can we expect from these experiences? How are the world's leading thinkers applying both foundational knowledge and novel insights as we seek to understand consumer psychology in a constantly changing landscape? And how can informed readers both contribute to and evaluate our knowledge? This handbook offers a critical overview of both fundamental topics in consumer psychology and those that are of prominence in the contemporary marketplace, beginning with an examination of individual psychology and broadening to topics related to wider cultural and marketplace systems. The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Psychology, 2nd edition, will act as a valuable guide for teachers and graduate and undergraduate students in psychology, marketing, management, economics, sociology, and anthropology.
Marketers are increasingly using the phrase, ‘chicken soup for the soul’ in their product packaging designs to communicate brand values and stimulate consumer purchases. However, little is known about how effective this strategy is. This research investigated the use of ‘chicken soup for the soul’ on the packaging, paying attention to both its effect, and any underlying mechanisms. From a semiotics viewpoint, this research (including three scenario-based experiments) demonstrated that the use of this phrase on the packaging had a beneficial effect on consumers' purchase intentions; it conveyed connotations of warmth and enhanced consumers' self-brand connection (Studies 1 and 2). The research also discovered that product temperature (Study 3) moderated the effects of the phrase, ‘chicken soup for the soul’. In particular, for products with a hot (vs. cold) temperature, the effect of CSS on purchase intention will be attenuated. These findings contribute theoretical implications for packaging design, semiotics, and warmth. This paper also provides meaningful insights for marketers on how to use this particular phrase in packaging design.
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Bu çalışma ile fizyolojik bir terim olan homeostaz ve tüketici davranışlarının kavramsal açıdan irdelenmesi amaçlanmaktadır. Tüketici davranışları alanında yapılan araştırmalar sıcaklık ve duygu faktörlerinin tüketicilerin satın alma niyetleri ve satın alma kararları üzerinde etkili olduğunu ortaya koymaktadır. Yabancı literatürde mevcut olan deneysel çalışmalar, vücudun iç dengesini sağlamakla görevli olan homeostazın, fiziksel sıcaklık ve duygusal sıcaklık arasındaki etkileşimi yönlendiren temel bir mekanizma olduğunu ve bu mekanizmanın tüketici davranışları üzerinde dolaylı bir etkiye sahip olduğunu göstermektedir. Homeostaz ve tüketici davranışları arasındaki ilişkiyi kavramsal açıdan ortaya koyan bu çalışma ile gelecekte yapılacak olan deneysel çalışmalar için teorik bir çerçeve sunulması hedeflenmektedir.
Ambient Temperature in Online Service environments (ATOS) is a sensory cue not directly accessible in current online servicescape technology, but inferred from secondary cues, particularly visual ones. This study integrates research on cross-modal inferences with a situated cognitions framework and the stereotype content model to show that ATOS enhances judgment of service provider warmth, in turn influencing important service outcomes. A pilot study explores the linkages between consumer online and offline experiences, providing evidence for online service environments’ capacity (especially ATOS) to shape customer judgment and behavior. Study 1 examines a tropical island holiday resort to show that online representations of the environment evoke situated cognitions and preferences consistent with high ambient temperature. Study 2 uses virtual tours of cafés to demonstrate that ATOS, through judgment of service provider warmth, positively influences purchase intention and other managerially important service outcomes. Study 3 employs 12 service contexts to replicate ATOS effects, mediated through warmth, and to show that effects are stronger in contexts where service provision is directed more at objects (vs. people). Given that ambient temperature is ubiquitous in all types of service settings and easily adjusted by practitioners, managerial implications outline how service marketers can more effectively employ ATOS.
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Although the effect of temperature on consumers is ubiquitous, little is known about how temperature affects consumers’ attitudes toward nostalgic advertising. Drawing on embodied cognition theory, this study explores the effect of temperature on consumers’ attitudes toward nostalgic advertising through the mediator of the affective system. Based on two experiments involving personal and historical nostalgic advertising, our results show that when exposed to comfortable temperature, consumers follow the “assimilative effect” of temperature; warm temperatures trigger more positive attitudes toward nostalgic advertising when compared with cool temperatures. However, when exposed to uncomfortable temperatures, consumers follow the “complementary effect” of temperatures; cold temperatures lead to more positive attitudes toward nostalgic advertising than hot temperatures. Furthermore, the affective system plays a mediating role between temperature and consumers’ attitudes toward nostalgic advertising. This study contributes to the literature on temperature in marketing and provides a practical guide for companies to implement nostalgic advertising strategies.
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The Meaning of Things explores the meanings of household possessions for three generation families in the Chicago area, and the place of materialism in American culture. Now regarded as a keystone in material culture studies, Halton's first book is based on his dissertation and coauthored with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. First published by Cambridge University Press in 1981, it has been translated into German, Italian, Japanese, and Hungarian. The Meaning of Things is a study of the significance of material possessions in contemporary urban life, and of the ways people carve meaning out of their domestic environment. Drawing on a survey of eighty families in Chicago who were interviewed on the subject of their feelings about common household objects, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-Halton provide a unique perspective on materialism, American culture, and the self. They begin by reviewing what social scientists and philosophers have said about the transactions between people and things. In the model of 'personhood' that the authors develop, goal-directed action and the cultivation of meaning through signs assume central importance. They then relate theoretical issues to the results of their survey. An important finding is the distinction between objects valued for action and those valued for contemplation. The authors compare families who have warm emotional attachments to their homes with those in which a common set of positive meanings is lacking, and interpret the different patterns of involvement. They then trace the cultivation of meaning in case studies of four families. Finally, the authors address what they describe as the current crisis of environmental and material exploitation, and suggest that human capacities for the creation and redirection of meaning offer the only hope for survival. A wide range of scholars - urban and family sociologists, clinical, developmental and environmental psychologists, cultural anthropologists and philosophers, and many general readers - will find this book stimulating and compelling. Translations: Il significato degli oggetti. Italian translation. Rome: Edizione Kappa, 1986. Der Sinn der Dinge. German translation. Munich: Psychologie Verlags Union, 1989. Japanese translation 2007. Targyaink tukreben. Hungarian translation, 2011.
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The popular press has recently reported that managers of retail and service outlets are diffusing scents into their stores to create more positive environments and develop a competitive advantage. These efforts are occurring despite there being no scholarly research supporting the use of scent in store environments. The authors present a review of theoretically relevant work from environmental psychology and olfaction research and a study examining the effects of ambient scent in a simulated retail environment. In the reported study, the authors find a difference between evaluations of and behaviors in a scented store environment and those in an unscented store environment. Their findings provide guidelines for managers of retail and service outlets concerning the benefits of scenting store environments.
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Most empirical work on product symbolism has paid relatively little attention to how products are used by consumers in everyday social life. This paper argues that the subjective experience imparted by the consumption of many products substantially contributes to the consumer's structuring of social reality, self-concept, and behavior. Moreover, the consumer often relies upon the social meanings inherent in products as a guide to the performance of social roles, especially when role demands are novel. While marketing theory traditionally views products as post hoc responses to underlying needs, the focus here is on conditions under which products serve as a priori stimuli to behavior. By integrating concepts adapted from symbolic interactionism, this approach stresses the importance of product symbolism as a mediator of self-definition and role performance.
The popular press has recently reported that managers of retail and service outlets are diffusing scents into their stores to create more positive environments and develop a competitive advantage. These efforts are occurring despite there being no scholarly research supporting the use of scent in store environments. The authors present a review of theoretically relevant work from environmental psychology and olfaction research and a study examining the effects of ambient scent in a simulated retail environment. In the reported study, the authors find a difference between evaluations of and behaviors in a scented store environment and those in an unscented store environment. Their findings provide guidelines for managers of retail and service outlets concerning the benefits of scenting store environments.
The purpose of this article is twofold. First, a theoretical framework is described that integrates the published literature associated with atmospherics into a services marketing context. Secondly, the roles of atmospherics as they pertain to consumer decision processes within service encounters are specifically addressed. A propositional inventory is developed that postulates the relationship between atmospherics and the three primary stages of consumer decision processes – prepurchase, consumption, and postpurchase evaluations. Suggestions for future research and managerial implications are also presented.
Recent experiments in embodied social cognition suggest a fundamental link between physical warmth and social affiliation. Findings from two experiments support the hypothesis that physical warmth serves as a symbolic cue signaling the close proximity of a source of affiliation. In Experiment 1, participants perceived a warm object as being physically closer than a cold object. In Experiment 2, being primed with warmth led participants to display higher levels of self-reported social affiliative motivation. In both studies, effects were moderated by individual differences in attachment style; priming effects were pronounced among those low in attachment avoidance and those high in attachment anxiety. These findings contribute to a growing literature suggesting deep connections between perception, physical experience, and social cognition.
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson take on the daunting task of rebuilding Western philosophy in alignment with three fundamental lessons from cognitive science: The mind is inherently embodied, thought is mostly unconscious, and abstract concepts are largely metaphorical. Why so daunting? "Cognitive science--the empirical study of the mind--calls upon us to create a new, empirically responsible philosophy, a philosophy consistent with empirical discoveries about the nature of mind," they write. "A serious appreciation of cognitive science requires us to rethink philosophy from the beginning, in a way that would put it more in touch with the reality of how we think." In other words, no Platonic forms, no Cartesian mind-body duality, no Kantian pure logic. Even Noam Chomsky's generative linguistics is revealed under scrutiny to have substantial problems. Parts of Philosophy in the Flesh retrace the ground covered in the authors' earlier Metaphors We Live By , which revealed how we deal with abstract concepts through metaphor. (The previous sentence, for example, relies on the metaphors "Knowledge is a place" and "Knowing is seeing" to make its point.) Here they reveal the metaphorical underpinnings of basic philosophical concepts like time, causality--even morality--demonstrating how these metaphors are rooted in our embodied experiences. They repropose philosophy as an attempt to perfect such conceptual metaphors so that we can understand how our thought processes shape our experience; they even make a tentative effort toward rescuing spirituality from the heavy blows dealt by the disproving of the disembodied mind or "soul" by reimagining "transcendence" as "imaginative empathetic projection." Their source list is helpfully arranged by subject matter, making it easier to follow up on their citations. If you enjoyed the mental workout from Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works , Lakoff and Johnson will, to pursue the "Learning is exercise" metaphor, take you to the next level of training. --Ron Hogan Two leading thinkers offer a blueprint for a new philosophy. "Their ambition is massive, their argument important.…The authors engage in a sort of metaphorical genome project, attempting to delineate the genetic code of human thought." -The New York Times Book Review "This book will be an instant academic best-seller." -Mark Turner, University of Maryland This is philosophy as it has never been seen before. Lakoff and Johnson show that a philosophy responsible to the science of the mind offers a radically new and detailed understandings of what a person is. After first describing the philosophical stance that must follow from taking cognitive science seriously, they re-examine the basic concepts of the mind, time, causation, morality, and the self; then they rethink a host of philosophical traditions, from the classical Greeks through Kantian morality through modern analytical philosophy.